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I've stumbled upon the viewing.nyc article Upper West Side Has Its Own Ant Species Dubbed the "ManhattAnt" which says:

Columbia University biologist Rob Dunn has discovered a unique species of ant living between 63rd and 76th streets along Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Dubbed the "ManhattAnt", the ants have a higher concentration of carbon in their bodies, indicative of a high corn-syrup diet, likely from eating trash and discarded street food.

Biologists stumbled upon a new species of ant in the Broadway medians at 63rd and 76th streets […] The ant looks like it hails from Europe, but so far the scientists have not been able to match it with any of the approximately 13,000 species of known ant. “It’s new to North America, and we believe it’s new to the entire world,” biologist Rob Dunn, whose team discovered the insect, told the Post. The ant doesn’t have a scientific name yet, but it’s fondly nicknamed the “ManhattAnt.”

and references the Simthsonian Magazine article NYC Has Its Own Ant, the “ManhattAnt” with the subtitle:

A new ant species joins a menagerie of other creatures cut off from their kind in isolated patches of urban green in NYC


A "new species" is not the same thing as a "creatures cut off from their kind in isolated patches of urban green in NYC"

Question: Has the "Manhattan Ant" or "ManhattAnt" turned out to be a new species, and is it still only found in Manhattan's Upper West Side?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that the species-identification tag fits here. Those who are monitoring the tag and have species-ID skills may still be interested in answering this question, but I don't have independent images or measurements of the ant. Since "Columbia University biologist Rob Dunn" is cited, there should be some reliable information out there somewhere in the literature, but I don't know how/where to find it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 4 '18 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what we can add to this. The article states that for the moment, this does indeed look like a new species. But it was only identified a few months ago, so there's not much more to say. It's not as though this was several years ago so you can expect a consensus to have been reached. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Oct 4 '18 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon the site has a substantial number of active users; I wouldn't write each and every one of them off so quickly. Sometimes people actually happen to know specific information on a topic, and this species, having been reported in several news sources, and relating to an interesting new topic in biology (species differentiation affected by urban development), might just have an extra amount of notability in the field. Let's wait and see! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 4 '18 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ I say this because your question suggests you were under the impression that the species was discovered years ago: Has the "Manhattan Ant" or "ManhattAnt" turned out to be a new species, and is it still only found in Manhattan's Upper West Side? $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Oct 4 '18 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ yes indeed! I'm glad you found out more :) $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Oct 7 '18 at 2:57
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Rob Dunn is a professor at North Carolina State University (though apparently taught at Columbia University at some point). I recall him mentioning this specific NY ant discovery to me 4-5 years ago. A better pop-sci article can be found here that suggests this discovery was circa 2012. Another related article can be found here.

You can find a few other papers regarding urban ant populations by Dunn and collaborator Amy Savage and others via Rob Dunn's website, (Ex: Savage et al. 2014 and Penick et al. 2015).

However, I could not find evidence in the few relevant papers I skimmed for the the so-called "Manhattant" or evidence of any publications formally introducing this as a new species.

Pećarević et al. 2010 ("Biodiversity on Broadway - Enigmatic Diversity of the Societies of Ants (Formicidae) on the Streets of New York City") lists a number of species found by Dunn and others in Manhattan, but again makes no mention of this specific discovery.

My conclusion is that since Dunn has not listed this as one of his many publications on his website it's either burried in another paper as an ancillary artifact, or, more likely, has not been formally described...

You could reach out to Rob directly [email | twitter], I suppose, and update us all on this question!

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  • $\begingroup$ This is great, thank you! The Biodiversity on Broadway paper (Pećarević et al. 2010, yay, open access!) is quite interesting, and google for example gives 55 citations and many related papers So this will keep me busy for a while. I'm too shy to reach out directly to any of them being outside my field, but that's a good idea and someone may follow up on it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 7 '18 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ apparently there is an Ant Wiki for this too! antwiki.org/wiki/Ants_of_New_York_City $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 7 '18 at 1:36

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